SRC September Meeting: Cascadia Rising — The Big One!

The Graham Self-Reliant Community will be taking a deeper look at regional and local earthquake preparation at its monthly meeting on Wednesday, September 7, 2016. The meeting will be held at the Fire Station in Graham at 23014 70th Ave E,  just south of 224th St. The meeting is free and begins at 6:30 pm.

In particular, area representatives will be discussing exactly what occurred during the Cascadia Rising Exercise in June, how local fire departments and county agencies participated, and what was learned.

The Cascadia Rising Exercise was the federal-state-local training project to prepare the Puget Sound Region to survive a 9.0 earthquake.

Assistant Graham Fire Chief Tony Judd will be attending the Self-Reliant Meeting, and Assistant Chief Guy Overby from the Central Pierce Fire and Rescue Department has been invited. Also invited is Sarah Foster, the Public Information Officer of the Pierce County Department of Emergency Management.

These individuals will join with members of the SRC in a panel discussion of how a 9.0 earthquake will manifest in our area. Simply, our primary warning will be a ground trembling of at least four minutes – that would be an 8.0.

If the shaking goes for six minutes then we have a full-release subduction quake that will be at least a 9.0, and render nearly full destruction of roadways and bridges, water and sewage lines, and fuel lines. FEMA estimates that this kind of earthquake will require everyone to survive in place for at least a week, and that little infrastructure repair could begin for at least a month, requiring large-scale evacuations for the injured and sick. The Cascadia Rising Exercise projected over 20,000 dead in the first few hours and at least a million residents immediately without effective shelter.

Since a Cascadian Subduction Zone quake will occur just off the Pacific coast of Washington and Oregon, FEMA officials have said that “everything west of I-5 will be toast.”

However, state building codes were strengthened in the 1990s so that all recent construction – certainly all public buildings – must be “resistant” to a 9.0 earthquake. Nevertheless, FEMA expects that a Big One will knock out half of all hospitals, schools, fire and police stations, and other municipal structures.

Geologists from the University of Washington told Cascadia Rising officials that the Pacific Northwest has experienced over forty 9.0 earthquakes in the past 10,000 years. That’s an average of one every 250 years, and the last known Cascadian Subduction Zone release was 360 years ago.

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